Quality-Time Enmeshing (QTE), or simply “enmeshing,” is a powerful indicator of violence to come when the relationship also has at least one type of Disrespectful Behavior occurring in it.
Enmeshing can look very different in different relationships. But there are 3 defining characteristics (always present) that identify enmeshing:
Now, some couples don’t say to each other, “Okay we’re going steady now.” They just assume they are based on the amount of time they are spending together. Either way—beginning at this stage of stated OR assumed monogamy, both partners start:
When they can’t literally be together (such as in a long-distance relationship), they are on the phone together 24/7, or they’ll call each other 4, 5, and 6 times a day and often talk for hours. So one way or another, they spend a lot of time together. Still, our research suggests that the intensity or the quality of their time together is likely the even more significant factor that points towards the violence to come than their high quantity of time together. Couples heading for violence have very high-quality or intense time together in early monogamy.
Now, you may still fail to fully understand what Quality-Time Enmeshing is until you see the great variety of ways that different couples heading for violence make their time together intensely “positive” (in contrast to nonviolent couples’ positivity). To learn about all the early warning signs of abuse in a more in-depth way, sign up now for the next virtual boot camp—“Detecting the Pink Flags Before they turn Red.” Importantly, you’ll also learn how some couples lie to themselves and thus convince themselves that they are not enmeshing. This actually makes these relationships appear to outsiders as though these couples aren’t enmeshing—when in fact they are!
The third defining characteristic of Quality-Time Enmeshing is:
For all the intense high-quality time couples heading for violence are spending together in early monogamy, this doesn’t mean that they are isolating themselves. As a warning sign of violence, isolation is one of the biggest myths or misconceptions, because the couple may actually be becoming more social. If they are becoming more social, the key is that they’re doing it together. Togetherness (not necessarily isolation) is the key defining word for relationships heading for violence.
“Cocooning” is a term used to describe that time when couples are in a stage when they’re completely into each other (like the honeymoon stage)—when they’re just cocooned up into each other and don’t want to be separated. But enmeshing is different. In the boot camp, you will get to see (via videotape), hear (via audiotape), and experience (via dramatization) lots of real-life examples of how enmeshing is different from cocooning. You’ll leave having internalized the differences, thus gaining a strong gut instinct for picking up on enmeshing when you see it or experience it.